The technology used to provide water from a drilled well may operate for years without a need for repair. It is only when the normal flow of water is disrupted that a water user is likely to examine the components of a water well system. Water well owners may be able to avoid an unexpected water disruption by uncovering and correcting small faults before they turn into a larger problem.
If you are a homeowner with a water well system, many of its mechanical components are probably clustered together. The pressure tank and the switch for the well pump are likely both contained within their own little outside structure. If the system components are not outside, they may be located in your basement. Before inspecting the aboveground components of your water well system, ensure that you have clear access to them.
Gain access to components
Take the time to clear away any cobwebs that have settled around the pressure tank and the switching components. Dust accumulation is generally not a problem, but the pressure gauge should be clearly readable through its glass face cover. To understand the pressure changes occurring within your water well system, you need to be standing or sitting in front of the pressure gauge.
Observe pump cycles
After turning on a faucet or an outdoor spigot, watch the pressure gauge as the pressure reading steadily declines. You may hear an audible click, when at some point, the mechanical switch closes and turns on the pump. At that point, the gauge reading should begin to climb back upward. At some higher point, the gauge reading should stop rising. If you were to leave the water running, the pressure cycles would continue as the pressure tank emptied and filled.
The main point of watching the pressure gauge is to ensure that the pumping cycle duration is of adequate duration. Although hardly detectable by water users inside your home, the pressure differential in a water well system should be about 20 PSI. Longer pump cycles result in less pump wear than shorter cycles. If your well pump appears to be short-cycling, the problem may lie in the pump switch.
Look for corrosion
The moving metal parts inside a mechanical well pump switch can become corroded due to humidity. The single bolt that secures the plastic housing over the pump switch has no electrical charge, but turn off the power supply anyhow if you intend to remove the cover. If the metal parts of the switch are rusty, the switch should be replaced.
Less visible problems, such as a failed diaphragm in the pressure tank, can also cause improper pump cycling. Contact a repair professional for more advice on the maintenance of wells.